NGOs and local councils have called on the public to help raise funds to appeal the “appalling” decision by the Planning Authority to grant a permit to Silvio Debono’s project at St George’s Bay, on the site of the former Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS).
They need to raise €15,000 to fund legal action to challenge the decision before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT).
The appeal comes from the Pembroke, Swieqi and St Julian’s local councils, as well as eight environmental organisations: Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, BirdLife, Moviment Graffitti, the Ramblers Association, Friends of the Earth, Nature Trust and Żminijietna – Voice of the Left.
They stressed the project was approved despite the impact on people’s quality of life and the environment. Over 4,500 objections were submitted to the PA.
The project was approved by 10 votes to four on 20 September despite the unprecedented number of objections.
Further controversy emerged after the decision as The Shift News reported a conflict of interest by Planning Board member Matthew Pace, a franchise owner of Remax – the agency that was selling apartments when the project had no permit and the land still belonged to the public.
Newsbook reported another Board member – Jacqueline Gili – was flown in on a private jet for the vote. She voted in favour of the project.
Meanwhile, estate agents are selling the properties for prices ranging from €3.5 million up to €10 million with a target finish date in June 2021.
The appeal will cost €3,500 to file, besides hefty legal and professional fees. Anyone interested in donating can do so online or by bank transfer using the following details:
Name of bank account: ITS-DB Legal Remedies